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2009: July-Sept

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Jan-March   April-June   July-Sept   Oct-Dec    

27th September

 Offsite: Football Fans and Police Thugs...

Link Here
Disgraceful police display of absolute arrogance, discrimination and aggression

See article from


24th September

 Offsite: The Right to Offend...

Link Here
Not being upheld in Britain

See article from


31st August   

Rustling about in your Laptop...

US can continue to pry into people's portable computers at borders
Link Here

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) in the US has amended its policy to seize any electronic device brought into the country, in a bid to counter criticisms that the policy infringes civil liberties.

The DHS conducts border searches of computers and other electronic media on a percentage of international travellers seeking to enter the US. Most times, the traveller is asked to turn on a device to ensure it is what it appears to be. But out of the 1,000 laptop searches between October 2008 and August 2009, 46 searches were in-depth.

Secretary Janet Napolitano announced the new directives to clarify searches of computers and other electronic media at US ports of entry. The new directives announced today strike the balance between respecting the civil liberties and privacy of all travellers while ensuring DHS can take the lawful actions necessary to secure our borders, she claimed.


10th August   

Update: Stasi Britain...

One UK adult in 78 coming under state surveillance
Link Here
Full story: Communications Snooping...Big Brother Extremism

The number of Big Brother snooping missions by police, town halls and other public bodies has soared by 44% in two years.

Last year there were 504,073 new cases. This is the equivalent of one adult in 78 coming under state-sanctioned surveillance.

Liberal Democrat spokesman Chris Huhne said last night: It cannot be a justified response to the problems we face in this country that the state is spying on half a million people a year. The Government forgets that George Orwell's 1984 was a warning, not a blueprint. We are still a long way from living under the Stasi - but it beggars belief that is necessary to spy on one in every 78 adults.

The requests to intercept email and telephone records were made under the hugely controversial Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000. A total of 653 state bodies, including 474 local councils, are allowed to use its surveillance powers.

Huhne said it made a mockery of a supposed crackdown on the use of RIPA by the Home Office. He added: We have sleepwalked into a surveillance state but without adequate safeguards. Having the Home Secretary in charge of authorisation is like asking the fox to guard the henhouse.

Despite the huge number of requests, the Home Office says there is a need to go further than giving public bodies access to phone and internet records. Under plans unveiled earlier this year, the police and security services would gain access to the public's every internet click and phone call. This would include, for the first time, monitoring the use of social networking sites such as Facebook. Every internet and phone company would have to allocate an ID to each customer.


7th August   

Update: Withdraw the Communications Bill...

UK government response to closed petition
Link Here
Full story: Communications Snooping...Big Brother Extremism

We the undersigned petition the Prime Minister to withdraw the Government's support for the Communications Data Bill

The Communications Data Bill would give the Government the legal authority to collect a database of every phone call, e-mail and time spent on the internet by the public. Even though the Government insists that this bill would reduce terrorism (which it probably will not), this is an intolerable intrusion into the privacy of free citizens and a step towards a dystopian "Big Brother" state. The Bill must be quashed to protect civil liberties and halt the slippery slope towards an Orwellian 1984-type nightmare.

Result: Snooping On

Closed with 1210 signatures

Government Response:

The Government has not proposed to create a centralised database which would hold the content (what was said or written in a communication) of all phone calls and e-mails sent by the public.

In April 2009, the Government published a consultation paper “Protecting the Public in a Changing Communications Environment” which considers how best to maintain the capability of public authorities to obtain access to communications data. The existing capability is declining in the face of rapid technological changes in the communications industry. The consultation document does, however, specifically rule out a central database holding all communications data.

Communications data is the “who, when, where and how” information from mobile phone calls, texts, e-mails and instant messages but is not the content. The use of communications data is an important capability that is used by the police and other agencies to protect the public and fight crime and terrorism.

The consultation outlines ways to collect and retain communications data and seeks views on how to strike the right balance between privacy and security. The system the consultation proposes is based on the current model where communications service providers collect and retain data and where there are strict and effective safeguards in place to ensure that relevant public authorities can only access the data on a case-by-case basis, when it is necessary and proportionate to do so.


5th August   

Update: Vetting the Vetters...

CRB who vet people working with children got it wrong in 1570 cases
Link Here
Full story: Vetting Workers...UK vets all adults to work with kids

More than 1,500 people have been wrongly branded as criminals or mistakenly given a clean record by the government agency set up to vet those working with children.

The number of errors by the Criminal Records Bureau (CRB) has more than doubled in the past 12 months, despite intense pressure for it to improve its performance.

Many of the victims of mistakes would have been intending to take up jobs as teachers, nurses and childminders, or become youth volunteers.

Hundreds of innocent people have been accused of wrongdoing by the CRB. They are likely to have faced career problems or stigma from their communities as a result. They will also have had to go through an appeals process to clear their names.

The worsening figures are an embarrassment for the Home Office, which faced criticism after the number of errors by the bureau was first highlighted by The Daily Telegraph last year.

The latest figures show that 1,570 people being checked by the CRB were wrongly given criminal records, mistakenly given a clean record or accused of more serious offences than they had actually committed in the year to March 31.

This compares with 680 people in the previous 12 months. The disclosure is likely to deter innocent people from applying for positions that require scrutiny, for fear of being labelled a criminal.

A copy of the CRB's annual report, which will be formally published next month, shows that 3.9 million certificates were processed by the agency: an increase of 500,000 on 2007-08 and the highest figure since the agency's creation.


3rd August   

Balls' Britain...

CCTV cameras installed in troublesome family homes
Link Here

Thousands of families in England are to be put in 'sin bins' in a bid to change their 'bad behaviour', Ed Balls has announced.

The Children's Secretary set out £400million plans to put 20,000 problem families under 24-hour CCTV supervision in their own homes.

They will be monitored to ensure that children attend school, go to bed on time and eat proper meals.

Private security guards will also be sent round to carry out home checks, while parents will be given help to combat drug and alcohol addiction.

Around 2,000 families have gone through these Family Intervention Projects so far. But ministers want to target 20,000 more in the next two years..

Balls said: This is pretty tough and non-negotiable support for families to get to the root of the problem. There should be Family Intervention Projects in every local authority area because every area has families that need support.


2nd August   

Update: State Snooping...

ISPs condemn the far reaching internet surveillance proposed by the UK government
Link Here
Full story: Communications Snooping...Big Brother Extremism

Internet firms have condemned the government's Big Brother surveillance plans as an unwarranted intrusion into people's privacy.

The companies, which ministers are relying on to implement the scheme, also say the government has misled the public about how far it plans to go in monitoring internet use.

The criticism, contained in a private submission to the Home Office, threatens to derail the £2 billion project, which ministers claim is essential to combat terrorism and crime.

Despite hostility from opposition MPs and civil liberties groups, government security officials want to be able to monitor every e-mail, phone call and website visit of people in the UK. The government claims it wants simply to maintain its capability to fight serious crime and terrorism.

However, the submission — by the London Internet Exchange, which represents more than 330 firms including BT, Virgin and Carphone Warehouse — said: We view the description of the government's proposals as ‘maintaining' the capability as disingenuous: the volume of data the government now proposes [we] should collect and retain will be unprecedented, as is the overall level of intrusion into the privacy of citizenry.

This is a purely political description that serves only to win consent by hiding the extent of the proposed extension of powers for the state.

Apart from accusing ministers and officials of hiding the truth from the public, the internet firms dismissed the plans as technically unworkable. In a statement earlier this year, GCHQ denied that it planned to spy on every e-mail and website visit in the UK. The internet providers, however, made it clear they do not believe that denial.

These new proposals suggest an intention to capture anything and everything, regardless of the communications [method] used. We have grave misgivings about the technical feasibility of such ambition, they said: We are not aware of any existing equipment [an internet company] could purchase that would enable it to fulfil a legal obligation to acquire and retain such a wide range of data as it transits across their network ... in some common cases it would be impossible in principle to obtain the information sought.

The internet providers also complained that the new proposals might be illegal under European or human rights laws. They said the plans would involve the collection of data which is unprecedented both in volume and the level of intrusion into personal privacy.


2nd August   

Update: Brits Shown the Card...

Alan Johnson unveils final design for British ID card
Link Here
Full story: ID Cards in UK...UK introduces ID cards

Home Secretary Alan Johnson has unveiled the final design of the British national identity card.

The card will be offered to members of the public in the Greater Manchester area from the end of this year. Volunteering for a car will also incur a lifetime of having to keep the state informed of address changes etc under duress of enormous fines.

Ministers plan to launch the £30 biometric ID card nationwide in 2011 or 2012 - but it will not be immediately compulsory.

Opposition spokesmen said it was a colossal waste of money and civil liberty groups said it was as costly to our pockets as to our privacy.

Ministers say the card, which follows the launch of the foreign national ID card, will provide an easy way of safely proving identity.

The card is very similar in look to a UK driving licence but holds more data, including two fingerprints and a photograph encoded on a chip. This chip and its unique number in turn links the card to a national identity register which, under current legislation, will hold more information about the identity of the individual.

If the scheme goes ahead, the card could be used as a travel document within Europe, separate to the passport, similar to arrangements between other EU member states.

Like the UK passport, the front of the card displays the royal crest as well as the thistle, the rose, the shamrock and the daffodil to represent the four parts of the UK.

No2ID, a national pressure group, is launching a counter-campaign across North-West England to derail the Home Office's plan. Dave Page, from the organisation, said: Once you are on that database, you can never come off it.

From the moment you're registered you'll have to tell the authorities of any change in your circumstances for the rest of your life - and pay whatever fees they ask for the 'service'.

You'll never know who's looking at your details. It won't protect our safety. It won't be convenient - except for Whitehall. This scheme is an expensive and dangerous con.


17th July   

Update: Passport to Pimlico...

British Government scraps passport requirement for ferries to Ireland, Isle of Man and the Channel Islands
Link Here
Full story: Travel on CCTV...UK network of roadside traffic logging CCTVs

Plans to force passengers travelling from Ireland and the Channel Islands to carry a passport for travel to mainland Britain have been quietly shelved.

The move to introduce passport controls within the Common Travel Area - which includes Ireland, Great Britain, the Isle of Man and the Channel Islands - for the first time in more than 80 years had been criticised by airlines and ferry companies, amid warnings of "travel chaos" at airports and terminals.

Earlier this year, peers in the House of Lords voted against the proposal, contained in the Borders, Citizenship and Immigration Bill.

Alan Johnson, the new Home Secretary, ruled that the Government would not fight to restore the measure, which would have affected the 15 million people who travel within the British Isles each year, when it returned to the Commons, effectively killing the plan off.

Damian Green, the shadow immigration minister, said: Conservatives have argued consistently that the Common Travel Area is useful for the United Kingdom, Ireland and the Channel Islands and that the Government was wrong in seeking to abolish it. We are delighted that our arguments have won the day.

A spokesman for the British Air Transport Association said that it had called for the rules to be clarified to avoid confusion at airports.


16th July   

Canada's Been Monitoring the UK...

Canada proposes internet surveillance along the lines of the snooping proposed for the UK
Link Here

The Canadian Government has introduced legislation to expand its surveillance of Internet users.

In the spring, the Government of Canada introduced two pieces of legislation that would greatly expand the power of the state to monitor its citizens online activity. The legislation, known as the Investigative Powers for the 21st Century (IP21C) Act, would force Internet Service Providers (ISPs) to install costly surveillance systems on their networks and give police wide ranging new powers that do away with judicial oversight.

According to University of Ottawa law professor Michael Geist, the legislation would create additional requirements for ISPs and expand police powers. These ISP requirements can be broken down into two components. First, ISPs will be required to install costly surveillance equipment on their networks. Part of the cost will fall to taxpayers while the remainder will be carried by the companies themselves. Some smaller ISPs will be exempt from this requirement for a period of three years, creating an unfair burden on the larger, more successful companies. Second, the legislation would requires that all ISPs give personal information to the government, including the names of their customers, as well as their IP, e-mail, and mailing addresses—on demand and without any judicial oversight.

Police will also gain expanded powers under this legislation. First, they will be able to obtain information about Internet-based messaging, including tracking what sites people are visiting and who they are communicating with. This information will be subject to a judicial order. Second, police will be able to order ISPs to preserve data on their customers. Third, police will be able to obtain a warrant to remotely activate tracking devices in technologies such as cellular telephones. Fourth, the legislation also deals with computer viruses and makes it easier for the government to coordinate its efforts with international governments.

There are numerous problems with the proposed legislation that should be alarming to freedom loving Canadians. It forces private business to not only be complicit in the government's attempt to spy on its citizens, it also forces them to shoulder much of the financial responsibility for the new policy. As such, some ISPs may be forced out of business. In addition, the legislation gives law enforcement officials unprecedented access to private communications and forces ISPs to preserve private data and disclose subscribers identities.


7th July   

Update: ID Card Fines...

MPs increase the cost of ID cards to £1000 for some holders
Link Here
Full story: ID Cards in UK...UK introduces ID cards

MPs have approved fines of up to £1,000 for those who fail to tell the passport and identity service of changes in their personal details including address, name, nationality and gender.

The fines are part of a package of secondary legislation being pushed through parliament designed to implement the national identity card scheme, and which will allow sensitive personal data on the ID card/passport database to be shared with the police, security services and other government departments.

The regulations were approved as the Conservative party made clear for the first time their commitment to scrap not only the identity card scheme but also its underlying database.

The shadow home secretary, Chris Grayling, told MPs: One of the first acts of a Conservative government will be cancelling the ID cards scheme. The scheme and the register are both an affront to British liberty and will have no place in a Conservative Britain. They are also a huge waste of money.

The Conservatives' home affairs spokesman, Damian Green, asked how the scheme could be voluntary when they were penalties for failing to provide information for the database: If it is a voluntary card, why are there penalties attached for failing to provide that information? he said, adding that the government should warn people that once they volunteer for a passport or ID card it was then compulsory for the rest of their lives.

Fines starting at £125 and rising to £1,000 are to be levied on those who fail to notify the authorities of a change of name or address, or to surrender an identity card, or to report a card lost, stolen, damaged, tampered with or destroyed.


2nd July   

Update: ID Cards Mandatory for Passport Holders...

£1000 fines for not keeping UK up to date with one's address
Link Here
Full story: ID Cards in UK...UK introduces ID cards

Brits who apply for or renew their passport will be automatically registered on the national identity card database under regulations to be approved by MPs in the next few weeks.

The decision to press ahead with the main elements of the national identity card scheme follows a review by the home secretary, Alan Johnson. Although Johnson claimed the cards would not be compulsory, critics say the passport measures amount to an attempt to introduce the system by the backdoor.

Johnson said he had halted plans to introduce compulsory identity cards for airline pilots and 30,000 other critical workers at Manchester and London City airports this autumn in the face of threats of legal action. Longer term plans to extend compulsory ID cards to other transport industries, such as the railways, as a condition of employment have also been scrapped.

But two batches of draft regulations to be approved by MPs tomorrow and next week are expected to include powers to make the passport a designated document under the national identity card scheme. This means that anyone applying for or renewing their passport from 2011 will have their details automatically added to the national identity databases.

The regulations also include powers to levy a fine of up to £1,000 on those who fail to tell the authorities of a change of address or amend other key personal details such as a change of name within three months.

Johnson said he wanted to see the introduction of identity cards accelerated for foreign nationals resident in Britain and for young early adopters for whom they would act as a useful proof of age. This trial is to be extended from Manchester to other parts of the north-west.

Isabella Sankey, director of policy at the human rights group Liberty, said the home secretary needed to be clear as to whether entry onto the national identity register was going to continue to be automatic when applying for a passport.

If so, the identity scheme will be compulsory in practice. However you spin it, big ears, four legs and a long trunk still make an elephant, she said.

Guy Herbert of the No2ID campaign said the pressing ahead with making the passport a designated document made a nonsense of the home secretary's assertion that the scheme was not compulsory: It is not compulsory as long as you don't want to leave the country.

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